Seed World

Rising Temperatures Predicted to Lower Wheat Yields

An international consortium of researchers has used big data sets to predict the effects climate change on global wheat yields.
The researchers, including from Rothamsted Research in the United Kingdom, used for the first time systematic multi-model testing with field and artificial heating experiments to focus on wheat responses to high temperatures.
Thirty wheat crop models were compared within the Agricultural Model Inter-comparison and Improvement Project with two previously unpublished data sets from field experiments in which wheat was exposed to growing season mean temperatures ranging from 15 to 32°C. Their multi-model predictions indicated global wheat production losses of six percent for each degree centigrade of global warming with increased variability of yield across regions and seasons.
“Options exist to adapt and mitigate the adverse effects of climate change on global wheat production,” says Mikhail Semenov, whose team at Rothamsted Research contributed to the research. “Breeding for late maturing cultivars with longer grain filling to recapture the temperature-induced loss of biomass and grain yield could be beneficial as long as exposure to heat stress and terminal drought does not become counter-productive. Optimizing this trade-off should be region specific, and crop modelling is a key exploration tool to underpin crop adaptation for a changing climate.”